Mahindra Reva NXR

Mahindra & Mahindra recently created an electric vehicle division in order to attract consumers in a growing market niche. This Indian automaker not only wants to meet the needs of foreign consumers but change perceptions of EVs at home. Mahindra’s EV division announced that the first units of the E20 EV will roll off assembly lines in Bangalore by November. This diminutive all-electric city car borrows heavily from the Reva NXR (pictured) heading for international markets by 2014. The E20 EV has been designed not only for zero-emissions transportation but affordability in a competitive regional market.

Indian consumers have been found to be highly selective across various goods including high-end products like automobiles. Mahindra had already developed the Reva NXR as an international product that could be sold in Great Britain, Germany and Denmark starting late next year. The E20 EV inspired by this model has been tweaked to appeal specifically to Indian drivers. This plug-in model is powered by a well-tuned electric motor as well as a 48-volt lithium-ion battery pack. Designers at Mahindra chose lithium-ion cells in order to achieve lower ownership costs than lead-acid models favored in India.

Reva NXR

The financial calculation for Mahindra provided the impetus for the E20 rather than loftier creative goals. The E20 EV is hardly aesthetically pleasing but a compact frame and inexpensive interior parts keep retail prices low compared to traditional hatchbacks. An E20 EV featuring the lithium-ion battery pack should be priced from around $9,200 per unit. Mahindra estimates that a similar model using lead-acid battery cells could cost upwards of $18,000 per unit. The path of least resistance for Indian automakers might resemble the E20’s inexpensive development process.

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Mahindra touted the Bangalore manufacturing facility used for E20 production as much as the rebranded EV. This massive factory is part of an expansion project by Indian corporations working in Bangalore that could generate thousands of jobs. The Mahindra plant reduces environmental impacts including the use of solar energy for 35% of total output.  Mahindra will also explore recycled metals and plastics as well as green upholstery as the E20 EV expands beyond the first generation. A cutting-edge manufacturing plant shows that this automaker is concerned as much with process as end product.

Executives at Mahindra are aiming for about 6,000 E20 units per year starting in 2013. The Bangalore facility should produce about 30,000 units in the following three years if sales are brisk. Mahindra’s experiences in the Indian auto market have revealed skeptical consumers but a wide-open path for EV domination. Indian automakers have been slow to develop all-electric models due to patchy infrastructure and safety concerns in target demographics. Consumer concerns extend beyond vehicle safety to battery range, required maintenance and durability. The Mahindra E20 should meet some of these concerns in the short term while designers chisel away at production costs and performance concerns.

Nicholas Katers is a history lecturer, freelance writer and green vehicle advocate based out of Milwaukee, WI.

5 COMMENTS

  1. A normal EV with a 100 mile range requires about a 25 KWh battery pack to run the distance. The average price of such a lead acid pack would be close to $3750, while for Lithium ion it would be ~$7500 at the very least. Just how does replacing Lead acid with Lithium-ion reduce the cost of the car by a margin of @12500 (considering the battery costs)????

    Would love to have the explanation M&M have to offer.

  2. i was wondering the same as apoorv. nowhere in this world lithium ion batteries are cheaper than their lead-acid counterparts. I know that mass production of Li-on batteries may lower its cost. But i don’t think thats the case here.

    Would love a genuine explanation from M&M behind that..

    • @karthik,
      My estimation of the cost of lithium ion batteries is actually based on the assumption that they are mass produced and that the manufacturer has achieved breakeven and can thus reduce costs. Even so, it would need technological advancements to get to this cost. According to the DoE report from two years back, the cost of manufacturing a 1KWh lithium ion pack for EVe would cost more than $400. In my calculations, I brought it down to $300.

      • @apoorv

        I agree to that. The mere fact they have mentioned that the lithium-ion batteries instead of the lead-acid ones is in itself very misleading. Any idea, on whats the capacity of battery pack and other tech specs of this car?

        • No idea about the E20. In fact this is the first place I read about it. As for the REVA, the old model (before M&M acquired it) had a 10 kWh lead acid battery with a range of close to 60 km (yeah, it sucks!!) and was the worst matchbox shaped design I have ever seen. The new REVA (after M&M acquired it). Normally, EVs claim 5-6 km/kWh, while the new REVA is claiming 10 km/kWh.

          http://www.mahindrareva.com/Reva-FOMelecveh.html

          I cannot find the actual battery stats on their site as of now. Am pretty sure they used to be there a few months ago. There are different reviews suggesting different numbers. The ones I remember were a range of 160 km (~25 kWh battery pack according to my calculations, though it could be lower if M&M managed to decrease the weight of the car significantly).

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